Virginia Democratic leadership, emboldened by their recent November win, is pushing for gun control, not crime control, which seriously undermines the needs of minority populations in the commonwealth.
The Second Amendment is central to the protection of all other rights. It states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Put another way, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution understood that to preserve the nation as a “free state,” we must protect the right of the people to keep and bear arms. And history teaches us that it is minorities, not majorities, that most need the right to defend themselves. The Democratic leadership says it is pro-minority, but its anti-gun legislation would undermine the ability of minority communities to defend themselves.
I was born in India and have lived in America for 30 years as a Sikh-American, and a story from my youth will help show the importance of the Second Amendment. In our Sikh faith, our 10th and final guru, Guru Gobind Singh, formally included the Kirpan (sword) as a mandatory article of faith for all baptized Sikhs, making it a duty for Sikhs to carry it to be able to defend the needy, suppressed individuals, righteousness and freedom of expression.
Sikhs are a proud race, hailing from the northern part of India. Sikhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world, known for fierce valor and service to all human beings. Thanks to the support of State Sens. Dick Black and Bryce Reeves, in 2017 we saw Senate Joint Resolution 298 adopted, designating Sept. 12 as Saragarhi Day of Sikh Pride in our great Commonwealth of Virginia.
On Oct. 31, 1984, we were residing in India’s capital, New Delhi. We heard about the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh body guards. Later that evening, we heard that there were attacks on Sikhs by some miscreants. But on Nov. 1 there was an all-out rage in the people to identify Sikh gurdwaras and their homes, to target their families, to burn, rape, loot and kill them.
This went on for several days in 40 cities despite the army being deployed — but not given the permission to help — so the senior officers of local police were responsible for law and order. At the end of it all, an unofficial number of dead was between 8,000 and 17,000, and more than 50,000 were displaced from their homes. A Sikh genocide had occurred which haunts us all until this day, showing how your own countrymen can turn against each other based on the inflamed passions of the moment.
During those challenging days for the secular democratic Republic of India, if members of the Sikh community and other citizens had the right to bear arms and had access to firearms, they would have been able to protect themselves, their families and neighbors. Whenever the state and its bureaucratic machinery gets paralyzed or influenced by the leadership in power, it is then that every individual citizen must have the means to exercise the right to protect themselves, their families and their community.
Some Sikh families had owned guns and swords and initially used them to protect themselves. But the police took them away on the pretext that the government would provide security to them. But when the mob returned, the disarmed Sikh families were helpless to defend themselves, and without the firearms taken by the government, the Sikhs were slaughtered. The police did not protect them.
All this shows that the Second Amendment is just not for majority populations. It is of even greater importance for minority populations. It allows us to protect ourselves not just against lawless citizens, but also governments that from time to time have acted in a despotic manner. It is exactly as the Second Amendment states — the right to keep and bear arms really is critical to a “free state,” giving us the means to exercise the right to self-defense, self-protection and self-preservation.
I desperately want to retain the right to protect myself and my loved ones. If the governor and Democrats in the General Assembly act to take away that right, then they should be held fully responsible for their actions and should face consequences for the harm that it will bring to minority communities.
• Puneet Ahluwalia is the president of New World Strategies Inc. and served on President Trump’s Asian Pacific Advisory Committee during 2016 election campaign.